It is very fashionable to pretend that differences don’t exist, whether racial, gender, religious, or what have you. In fact, if you do happen to be unfortunate enough to notice something you shouldn’t, you will inevitably be called all sorts of names in an effort to get you to go back to not noticing. As it turns out, this has been a problem for over a hundred years now and, as Chesterton contends in his 1913 article “Concerning Those Who ‘Cannot See the Difference’,” not being able to see obvious differences simply makes one an idiot rather than intelligent.
Why do people think it intelligent to say, “I can see no difference!” It is nowadays quite a mark of culture to say that one can see no difference between a man and a woman, or a man and an angel, or a man and an animal. If a man cannot see the difference between a horse and a cow across a large field, we do not call him cultured; we call him short-sighted. Now, there are really interesting differences between angels and women; nay, even between men and beasts, and all such things. They are differences which most people know instinctively, as most people know a cow is not a horse without looking for its mane; or most people know a horse is not a cow without looking for horns. Whether the difference ought to count in this or that important question is a completely different matter, but it ought not really to be so difficult simply to see the difference. Such things can only be argued upon commonplace if imaginary examples. Let me suppose that one modern matron says to another: “I don’t like my daughter playing hockey.” It is very probable that the other modern matron (being a yet more modern matron) will answer, “Well, you let her play lawn tennis; and I don’t see the difference.” It is even more probable that the less modern matron will simply collapse under this, and be found incapable of reply. For this is a strange epoch; and while, in some ways, we have quite dangerously encouraged the appetites, we have quite ruthlessly crushed the instincts. The right answer to the more modern matron (which the less modern matron so lamentably failed to give), is simply to say this, “If you really cannot see the difference between hockey and lawn tennis, I suggest that you try using your brains until you do. For the differences, I assure you, are both enormous and subtle.”
What is called the old-fashioned idea of woman may be stupid; but it cannot be stupider than the people who cannot see that lawn tennis falls within its frontier, and hockey outside it. What is called a new idea of woman may be more intelligent; but if it is even feebly intelligent it will instantly “see the difference” between lawn tennis and hockey. Now, I’m not urging these things as any argument against the girls playing hockey. I am urging them as an argument against the modern matron’s “not seeing any difference.” If anyone chooses to say, “I do see the difference; I prefer the hockey girl” – that is entirely intelligent. But if modern thought merely classes all games for girls together, then there is only one explanation to be offered: it is simply because modern thought means modern thoughtlessness.
“Political correctness is a war on noticing.” – Steve Sailer
More G.K. Chesterton on F&H: Chesterton on Economics, Chesterton on Loving Humanity, Chesterton on Tradition and Democracy, and Chesterton on the Nation.